LOS ANGELES - Bernie Brillstein, a Hollywood talent agent, manager, producer, and studio head who over half a century guided the careers of "Saturday Night Live" comedians and helped package a slew of television and movie hits, has died. He was 77.
Mr. Brillstein died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Thursday night at a Los Angeles hospital, according to information provided yesterday by Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Starting in the mailroom of the William Morris talent agency in 1956, Brillstein moved up to become a Hollywood power broker famous for putting together television and movie deals, often starring talent he represented and with himself as executive producer.
Mr. Brillstein helped guide the careers of John Belushi and Muppets creator Jim Henson. He also helped bring "Saturday Night Live" and "The Sopranos" to television.
With partner Brad Grey, in 1991, he founded the influential management and production company Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, which later was named Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Among the successful shows he helped bring to television were the long-running variety show "Hee Haw" and "Alf." He was executive producer on the hit movie "Ghostbusters."
Brash, sharp, and rotundly rumpled, Mr. Brillstein exemplified the old-school stereotype of an agent instead of the slick, corporate operator.
"He had a soul that is often missing in the business, which has taken on much more of a corporate tone," said Jon Liebman, chief executive officer of Brillstein Entertainment Partners.